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Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 25 May 1864

Dearest Mother

I have not heard any thing of George or the reg't or Corps more than I have already written—I got Jeff's letter on Sunday, & wrote to him next day, which you have seen, mother, of course—I have written to Han & sent her George's letter to me dated 16th—I have heard that the 9th Corps has been moved to the extreme left of the Army—I should think by acc'ts this morning that the Army must be nearly half way from Fredericksburgh to Richmond1—the advance can't be more than 30 to 35 miles from there—

I see Fred McReady about every other day, I have to go down to Alexandria, about 6 miles from here—he is doing quite well, but very tired of the confinement—I still go around daily & nightly among wounded—Mother, it is just the same old story, poor suffering young men, great swarms of them come up here, now, every day, all battered & bloody—there have 4000 arrived here this morning, & 1500 yesterday—they appear to be bringing them all up here from Fredericksburgh—the journey from the field till they get aboard the boats at Bell Plain is horrible—I believe I wrote several times about Oscar Cunningham, 82d Ohio, amputation of right leg, wounded over a year ago, a friend of mine here, he is rapidly sinking, said to me yesterday, O if he could only die—the young lad Cutter, of 1st Massachusetts heavy artillery, I was with Sunday afternoon, (I wrote about in Jeff's letter,) still holds out, poor boy, there is no chance for him at all—

But, Mother, I shall make you gloomy enough if I go on with these kind of particulars—Only I know you like to hear about the poor young men, after I have once begun to mention them—Mother, I have changed my quarters—am at 502 Pennsylvania av. near 3d street, only a little way from the Capitol—where I was, the house was sold & the old lady I hired the room from had to move out & give the owner possession—I like my new quarters pretty well—I have a room to myself, 3d story hall bedroom, I have my meals in the house.

Mother, it must be sad enough about Nance, & the young ones—is the little baby still hearty, I believe you wrote a few weeks after it was born that it was quite a fine child2—I see you had a draft in the 3d Congressional district, I was glad enough to see Jeff's name was not drawn—We have had it awful hot here, but there was a sharp storm of thunder & lightning last night, & to-day it is fine—Mother, do any of the soldiers I see here, from Brooklyn or New York, ever call upon you?—they sometimes say they will, here—tell Jeff I got a letter yesterday from W E Worthen, in which he sent me some money for the men, I have acknowledged it to Mr W by letter3—Well, dear mother, I must close, O how I want to see you all—I will surely have to come home as soon as this Richmond campaign is decided—then I want to print my next book—love to Mat—write to a fellow often as you can—



  • 1. A dispatch in the New York Times, signed "Swinton," simply noted that Grant's army was "on the march toward Richmond." [back]
  • 2. See Whitman's letter from April 5, 1864. [back]
  • 3. Worthen sent $20 to Whitman on May 23, 1864: "I hope I shall be able to send more from time to time." Whitman's reply is not known. See also note 4 to his letter from May 23, 1864. [back]
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